School lunches: Time-saving tips from parents

Prepping kids' lunches is another job to finish before heading out the door. We asked parents for their morning rush time-saving tricks.

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Photo: iStockphoto

“I make sandwiches for the week, then put them back in the bread bag and freeze them. I take out the ones I need the night before, and they defrost in time for lunch.” — Koreena Jackson, Saskatoon

“My five-year-old likes to pack her own lunch, so I let her assemble everything the night before. I just make sure she has precut fruit and veggies.” — Erika Ross, Cold Lake, Alta

“I make a big batch of smoothies, pour them into individual containers and stick them in the freezer. In the morning, I’ll pop them into their bags, and by lunchtime, they’ve thawed enough to eat with a spoon.” — Haylie Langwald, Edmonton

“My picky kid has been happy to eat a toasted bagel with cream cheese and banana for lunch every day for a year. Only two minutes to prep!” — Karyn Pickles, Toronto

“I’m a morning person, so I’m able to prepare everything fresh (and have that hour all to myself). Sometimes I even manage to take out the trusty slow cooker and get supper on the go, too. With a family of five, time is always of the essence.” — Ashalee Tromzach, Shellbrook, Sask.

“I make Jell-O in small plastic containers for when I need last-minute snacks.” — Cortney Woods, Toronto

“Muffins and cookies are easy to batch cook and freeze for snacks. I also divide dips into small containers in the fridge. A great tool for us has been to ask the kids what they like at the beginning of the year so I have a list of ideas already.” — Katherine Caine-Pollock, Ottawa

Read more: 8 super-creative kids’ lunches >

“I make a meal plan for the whole week in advance; it keeps me organized and any dinner leftover items can always be tossed into lunches.” — Jennifer Vear, Aurora, Ont.

“Anything that doesn’t require refrigeration goes in the lunch bag the night before. In the morning, I just add the yogurt and a cool pack and we’re good to go.” — Rebecca Howat, Roslin, Ont.

“On really rushed mornings, I just throw ingredients in her lunch bag: She’ll get slices of bread, individual packets of jam and cream cheese, and a butter knife. She really enjoys making her lunch by herself.” — Isabella Diego, Toronto

Read more: 11 portable hot lunches >

“We wash, chop and bag snacks for the week when we’re putting way groceries. This way, we only need to grab baggies of fruit or veggies when we’re packing up the lunches.” — Lisa Rhonin, Vancouver

“We have a set snack and meal plan for everyone. Fruit for the morning break, an entree for lunch, and the afternoon treat is their choice (crackers, homemade muffins or cookies). If it isn’t eaten at school, it becomes the after-school snack.” — Jennifer Tobin, Toronto

A version of this article appeared in our August 2013 issue with the headline, “Lunch 101,” p. 24.

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